Review Summary: Mayhem's squelching, muddied, and nastiest release.
Ordo Ad Chao is an odd one, to say the very least. It sounds like the bastard child of Axis of Perdition and Neurosis, coupled with Obituary. Most of all however, it sounds like De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas shoved up the anus of a large demon, ***ted out again into a pool of squirming zombies in a rusty meat grinder, and then ground up again to be served to the masses.
The production is bassy, thick, and sludgy, almost reminiscent of a garage band not yet signed up with a good label. The drums drone away in the background, providing a rumbling rust caked performance to suit the fecal (for lack of a better term) basslines carrying the almost subsonic lead guitars. The production is suprisingly relevant to the overall theme, encompassing the listener in a rotted, suffocating, and disgusting atmosphere. It almost brings to mind taking a ride on a malfunctioning dark ride buggy into the deepest abyss of hell, creaking and groaning with a malevolence matched only by De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas. It should be said that while that album was an exercise in cold, mechanical nihilism, this album is the maniacal post nihilist swimming in a boiling heatwave all the while revelling in the destruction of humankind. It's the aftermath of De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas, and the production is ace when you realize what they were trying to accomplish.
Musically, it's a sickening parody of DMDS, twisting and churning once mechanical riffs into atonal and discordant ones that seem to meld together in their simplistic nastiness. They sometimes repeat themselves through the course of separate songs, suggesting that the album is attempting to make one coherent statement/song. You could literally listen to the album from beginning to end and connect the entire thing into a grand and nasty symphony. Hellhammer is awesome as always, committing some of the fastest double kick patterns known to humankind on certain songs like Psychic Horns and Wall of Water, though the patterns manifest themselves in a slightly more subdued manner due to the production. Attila's vocal performance has improved immensely from DMDS, changing from his almost muttered Gollum-like vocals into a varied plethora of nauseating vocals that range from hideous sobbing to insane fry croaks that bring to mind an Ihsahn in his prime.
Why did I not give this album a five" It's personal preference. I personally thought that Mayhem were going to turn into a blackened technical death metal band, but then again, I did have some sort of premonition that Mayhem was going to turn a full 180 once again and surprise us all with an album that is completely different from all their past works. If you are tired of the 'frost bitten grim' atmosphere of traditional black metal, or are just an extreme metal fan in general, I recommend this wholeheartedly to you. The atmosphere is of its own class, and listening to this album is bound to blacken anyone's day, no matter how happy it is.